Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Glen of Weeping

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted.  It's been a hectic time.

The past week has been taken over by the sudden surge in sales of my film Sleepless 'til Seattle, thanks to an article that appeared in the Adventure Cycling Association's, online bi-weekly magazine, Bike Bits.  It appeared last Wednesday and by Thursday morning orders for the film and the CD started to flood in.  Today I mailed out the first 115 of them. Fantastic, but the Post Office staff weren't too pleased when I turned up this afternoon to mail them!

So after all this I thought I deserved a reward. Yesterday, together with my good friend Andrew, we ventured 130 miles north into the Highlands to the iconic mountain range of Glencoe.

Unusually for Glencoe it was basking in 25C (77F) heat and bright blue sky. We were quite late getting to our destination and as a result our intended peak of Bidean nam Bian, the highest peak in Glencoe and one of "the Three Sisters", was outwith our available time. As it would turn out it would have been outwith our available fitness too.

It was 2.00pm before we set off on the high quality path. It is steep from the start and gradually becomes even steeper as it ascends the 873m (2864feet) to the summit.  It became obvious around the half way point that my fitness was not at its peak, and I started to stop to catch my breath at ever more frequent intervals.

But by 4pm I took the last few steps that brought me out onto the craggy, exposed summit.  Words cannot describe the view from here. It felt as if I could see forever. To the north was the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to the south, the peak of Bidean that we had originally wanted to climb. From here it was obvious we would not have made it. Curiously, despite a constant breeze all the way up there was not a breath on the top. It was perfectly still.
The peak is called Am Bodach, and not too far to the north is another peak also called Am Bodach, which is slightly confusing. That peak is famous as being the UK's 100th highest in the Munro table (mountains over 3,000ft). However, the peak I was now standing on has fame all of its own: it marks the start of what is easily the UK's scariest and most exposed ridge, the 10km long Aonach Eagach. For me Am Bodach was far enough, and after a few photos I turned south and picked my way down the same route.

It was at this point, with an hour of descent ahead, that I realised I had run out of water and had left my food at the bottom.  Every step I took down the steep path jarred through my legs, and by the time I reached the bottom I was exhausted, dehydrated and my legs were trembling.  A quick sugar hit and a litre of water brought me back to the land of the living.

The name Glencoe is often said to mean "Glen of Weeping", perhaps with some reference to the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 when the clan Campbell murdered the McDonalds, some while they slept.

The only thing that was getting murdered this day was a large pizza at the Green Wellie shop on the way home.

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